Impromptu Poetry: Black Woman Working
I didn’t get called out my name today, but something took place that stings just the same.
Of only four black women on my job, I was repeatedly called by another black woman’s name.
See I heard it the first time, I figured the supervisor, white male wasn’t talking about me, so I kept on working.
Still seated, he called this other name again.
I kept on working. His glance was toward my direction, but surely after all this time, he knew the difference, see because me
and that other beautiful queen,
we have completely different job titles.
She’s tall with milky chocolate skin and straight hair.
I’m average height, with more of a vanilla latte kind of complexion, with wild, kinky hair.
The supervisor stood up walking toward me, firmly saying this other woman’s name, then reached me. Face-to-face.
Sure as he knew his own name, he looked me in the face and said her name again, somewhat annoyed, determined to assert his power and my apparent lack of hearing, illuminating my percieved defiance.
And then playfully, but not really so…
I look him square in the eye
repeat the incorrect name he kept calling me, to my face.
My face playfully but not really so, exaggerated and quizzical I repeat the name like a question lilting my voice upward with a sonic question mark to let the name that is not mine hang in the air for dramatic effect.
My supervisors face turns twisted exposed by his error. But instead of an apology, excuses of a heavy workload and demanding schedule leaves his lips.
Another swallowed microaggression. Tiny amounts of poison ingested daily is still ingestion of poison just the same.
I dress up my discomfort and grievances, with a well-timed joke or self-deprecating humor to disarm the proud, scared competitive. Meanwhile my excellence and competence and mastery of what it is I know, what helps you look like a good leader and enabling the pay gap between you and I to grow wider, even if I someday replaced you…
Is all in a day’s work for me.
Being me in this world is like being asked to walk a tightrope in high heels, while wearing a mask restricting my breath and limiting my sight while carrying a person on my back at the same time.
I’m amazed by a dual, dueling expectation of success and failure thrust upon my shoulders.
But I keep exceeding expectations, while more gets piled on, because at this rate, under these kinds of circumstances, eventually I’m supposed to break.
You must not know about me.
You must not know my history.
But how can I expect you to…
You’re still struggling with the basics…
Like remembering my name.